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A Developmental Approach to New Media Literacy Education & Teaching 6th Grade “Cyber Civics”

When/Where: Saturday, 3:45-4:45pm in Ballroom A2.

Presenters: Diana Graber, Journey School and Co-Founder of Cyberwise.orgPresider: Angie Beumer Johnson

Objectives: This session provides participants with a new understanding of how healthy cognitive development in children is a prerequisite for the abstract thinking skills young people need to navigate the ethical challenges posed by networked publics. Speaker will also show video and play games from her past year’s adventure- teaching “Cyber Civics” to 6th graders at Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA.

Audience: PK-12 Schooling, Educational Administration & Policy


Rather than technical skills, what students really need today are skills that will prepare them to navigate the ethical challenges that loom in cyberspace. Unfortunately, most schools are too over‐burdened to undertake this task. However, we’ll take a look at one school model that seems to have stumbled upon a successful formula for the development of both ethical thinking skills and many of the new media literacy skills identified by Dr. Henry Jenkins (2006)– without using technology at all! We’ll explore how this school is helping students extend these skills into cyberspace during middle school.

Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA, a progressive charter school that uses Waldorf teaching methods, has turned a middle school civics class into “Cyber Civics”. Using curricular materials from Common Sense Media (based upon the digital ethics research of Dr. Howard Gardner and Harvard University School of Education’s GoodPlay Project) and activities from Dr. Jason Ohler’s book Digital Community, Digital Citizen (2010), Journey School is in the midst of a three year action-based research project integrating digital citizenship, research, and information literacy skills into its existing curriculum. The goal of this workshop is to share some of these practices in the hope that they may find their way into traditional schools, giving even more students a chance to experience a developmental approach to new media literacy that will equip them to be creative, capable, and ethical users of technology.

Participant Involvement

The presentation (Prezi) includes many classroom activities that require audience participation and video shot this past year of the students participating in the same lessons. This is your chance to see if you are as cyber-smart as a 6th grader!


  • Diana Graber, Journey School and
  • Diana Graber has an extensive background as a producer and marketer of media, including video/film, television, publishing and special events. Currently, she and her husband operate Graber Productions, an award-winning film and video production company.
    For the past decade, Diana has also spent much of her time volunteering for her children’s public charter school where she is also teaching “Cyber Civics”. This has led to a new passion for helping young people master the skills of telling their own stories across all mediums. As a result she and a colleague just launched CyberWise (, a website to help parents and educators understand and use new media to invigorate education.
    Diana has a B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Media Psychology and Social Change from Fielding Graduate University/UCLA. She serves on the boards for Journey School and Wheels4Life. Diana resides with her husband and two “digital native” daughters in Capistrano Beach, CA.

CyberWise Guide to Media Literacy

A Developmental Approach to Media Literacy Prezi

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